Source: The Pensacola News Journal
NEW YORK — Five Pensacola chefs brought tastes of Grits a Ya Ya, crab cakes and other Southern delights to the Big Apple Tuesday as they entertained a group of gourmets at the James Beard House.
The Pensacola chefs — Dan Dunn of H2O of the Hilton Pensacola Beach Gulf Front, Irv Miller of Jackson’s Steakhouse, Jim Shirley of The Fish House, Gus Silivos of Nancy’s Haute Affairs and Frank Taylor of Global Grill — are part of a mission to let the New York food community know that Gulf seafood is back from the effects of last year’s BP oil spill, is safe to eat — and delicious.
“I’m a surfer, and I’ve not seen a tar ball since last October,” Miller said. “We need people to get back on the bandwagon of supporting the Gulf Coast.”
“Morning Joe” host and Pensacola resident Joe Scarborough aired a segment about the visit on his show this morning. Watch it in the player embedded at left.
The chefs prepared a tasting for journalists Tuesday afternoon, followed by a five-course dinner. The dinner sold out at $170 a pop.
The chefs donated their time to get the word out about Pensacola and help promote tourism.
“It’s all about promoting our culinary heritage,” said Silivos, who prepared Scamp Cervantes, which gained notoriety when President George H.W. Bush ordered the dish at Silivos’ former restaurant, Skopelos. “We want to showcase to tourists that Pensacola has some of the best seafood in the world.”
The event was sponsored by Visit Pensacola, which received funds from BP following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year for marketing efforts. The money has allowed the tourism group to air national television commercials, shown on the Weather Channel and the Travel Channel, as well as participate in events like this dinner to lure in potential visitors.
Pensacola Bay Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Jim Hizer used the event to host a group of economic development site selectors, while Visit Pensacola officials feted travel writers from publications like Travel and Leisure and the New York Daily News.
Pensacola Chamber Chairman Collier Merrill and his wife, Cate, attended the event, along with Innisfree Hotels CEO Julian MacQueen and his wife, Kim.
MacQueen flew up 770 pounds of wine and ingredients for the dinner on his plane from Pensacola.
“We’ve read about the James Beard House for decades and always wanted to be a part of it,” MacQueen said. “We wanted them to have the best of the best and the freshest of the fresh.”
In addition to Silivos’ dish and The Fish House’s signature Grits a Ya Ya, diners got a taste of asparagus-crusted soft shell crab from H20 and andouille-crusted Apalachicola oysters from Global Grill among other dishes.
“When I saw the menu with all the seafood in all these creative ways, I was drooling,” said Jane Kendall, who divides her time between Greenwich Village in Manhattan and Harding Township in New Jersey.
Kendall was part of a party invited by James Beard Chairman’s Circle member Micky Mayfield. A favorite of the table was an appetizer by Shirley with pickled okra and Alligator Point clams.
“All those flavors together were very interesting,” Kendall said.
Collier and Jim’s appearance on Morning Joe here: